Why Does Jack Reacher Kill? What Say You?

You all know I’m working on the next book in The Hunt for Jack Reacher Series. You chose the title here on the Licensed to Thrill Blog: Get Back Jack. And now, you’ve helped with a significant question about Jack Reacher.

Thank you everyone for participating!

Please do continue to leave your answers to my question. All of your answers have been excellent and thought provoking, to say the least! So much so that we decided to use a random.org selector for awarding the prizes because we simply couldn’t choose two “best answers.”

As promised, we’ve closed the entries for our contest and the two winners have been notified. You can read their entries in the comments section below. They are:
Entry #9 (Ronald Ballard) and Entry #4 (Jenny Anderson)

In case you missed it, here’s the rest of the original post:

Now, we have another question for you. Since we need your help, we’re offering a bribe, of course.

Here’s the setup: 

Otto and Gaspar are building the FBI’s Special Personnel Task Force Reacher File by interviewing Reacher’s old army buddies. Men and women who knew Jack Reacher as no one else does (except Reacher readers, of course). As only soldiers who relied solely upon each other for their very lives and survived to tell the tale can know a man. Which is pretty damn well, right?

Once, there were nine in their elite unit. Now, only four remain, and one of those four is Reacher.

If you’ve read Lee Child’s Back Luck and Trouble, you know exactly how Reacher’s five closest friends died. Once again, readers have the advantage.

Bad Luck and Trouble copy

Unlike you, Otto and Gaspar Don’t Know Jack, and they’re learning the hard way.

Together, we’ll all discover the rest of the Reacher story.

A huge piece of the puzzle for Kim Otto is Reacher’s essential nature. Why does Jack Reacher kill? Is he some kind of psycho? She doesn’t know. Right now, she believes the answer might go either way.

Don’t shoot me, but it seems to me the answer is: Reacher kills because he can. Hear me out first. Then for a chance to name a character in the new Get Back Jack, or for a new DVD or Blu Ray copy of The Jack Reacher Movie (your choice) tell me in the comments below: what say you?

Do we ever imagine Reacher without the ability to kill? Of course not. Nor does he.

Violence is always available as an option for Reacher. He is a man of supreme self-confidence. He never doubts his physical ability to prevail against all odds.

Yet, in the books and even in the Jack Reacher Movie, Reacher sometimes makes a non-violent choice. Why?

Lee Child said that Reacher always does what seems like the right thing to him.

Lee photo

So a more essential question to Kim Otto is: what motivates Reacher to kill or not to kill? Can she possibly stay on the surviving side of Reacher’s choice?

As a practicing lawyer, I learned long ago that motivation is the most important piece of any human puzzle. The law calls this “intent” and reasons backward from the result of the act to the mental state that launched the behavior. Some types of “intent” carry worse legal consequences than others.

But Reacher will never have to worry about the nuances.

When Reacher intends to kill, he gets the job done, right?

Kim Otto is a lawyer by training and an FBI agent by profession. She sees the results of Reacher’s choice and she reasons in reverse, seeking the motivation that led to Reacher’s decision to solve a real or perceived problem by execution.

Because if Otto can figure out what makes Reacher kill, she and Gaspar might just stay alive.

With all apologies to Shakespeare, then, motivation is not simply the first and most important question in hunting Reacher, it is the only question that matters to Kim Otto.

Not “What did Reacher do?” so much as “Why did Reacher do it?” and “How can we not do that thing that makes Reacher kill?”

Before Otto faces Reacher, she’ll need to know.

But in Get Back Jack, Otto and Gaspar face another big question: what happens to the rest of us when Reacher fails?

What do you think? For a chance to win an opportunity to name a minor character in Get Back Jack, OR a copy of the newly released DVD of The Jack Reacher Movie (winner’s choice) leave your comments below and we’ll choose two of the best answers. We’ll announce the winners next week.

Will your character survive the Hunt For Reacher? 

Folks, if you’re new here, you may not know that Readers are #1 with me! I love to hear from you! I see everything you send to me and reply as soon as I can. No exceptions! If I don’t respond to your e-mail within 10 days, let me hear about it!

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As always, thank you for reading!

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18 Responses to Why Does Jack Reacher Kill? What Say You?

  1. Larry Burden March 1, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    To keep from getting killed!!!

  2. Kathryn Farrago March 2, 2013 at 3:44 am #

    Jack Reacher kills for the same reason that Ender Wiggins (Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card) destroys his opponents as a child. Once he decides that his adversary cannot be reasoned with or trusted at his back (i.e. ignored), the only remaining safe choice is his mind is total annihilation. Interesting, it is not always a matter of his own personal safety. Jack has a very black and white moral code that requires the protection of the innocent and the elimination of the nonreformable, so his decision to kill can also be about safety of the an innocent bystander.

  3. Lee Anne Knibb March 2, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Jack kills because he is not given the choice. He is a big man going against the worse. I don’t think he has ever killed someone who didn’t deserve it.

  4. Jenny Anderson March 2, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Jack Reacher kills because he acts as an instant judge and jury for the people that he perceives as deserving punishment. Sometimes that punishment is a broken arm or leg; other times the fitting punishment is death or a permanent removal of a threat.

  5. Karen McFarland March 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    Diane, I just think this was a brilliant move on your part to take up another viewpoint of the Jack Reacher saga. I’ve been thinking lately that we need to do another post together girl to celebrate the one year anniversary of the release of your Don’t Know Jack series. As you know, I love champagne and will always look for a reason to celebrate! But I do believe your launch started on my blog. (If not, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. LOL!) What do you think? We could grow a some interest towards the coming release of this new book and catch people up on what has happened to you and your books (story) since last year. What say you? 🙂

    • Diane Capri March 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

      Hi, Karen!

      So nice to see you here. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind invitation. I’ll send you an e-mail and we’ll chat!

  6. Scott Jerabek March 2, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Jack Reacher is wired to defend the defenseless. From his early childhood moving from military base to base he has had to defend himself, (and his) brother, from bullies and other people of low moral character. He has learned to identify the source of the threat and to penetrate the defense mechanisms protecting it. Sometimes with severe prejudice. I believe that the character Reacher has his own internal meter that balances the punishment with the crime – He does not exist in shades of gray. He kills because he feels it is necessary. His law enforcement experience and understanding of human motivation keeps him off of the grid. I do not believe he feels a need to explain or justify is actions to anyone other than the victim of the threat.

  7. Marci J Green March 3, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Jack Reacher only kills as a last resort to protect the innocent from the most depraved and evil people.

  8. Ron March 4, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    Jack kills because he can, and because he knows that if he doesn’t serve his brand of justice on the bad guy, it will never get served by those charged with the responsibility to do so.

  9. Ronald Ballard March 5, 2013 at 1:18 am #

    Jack has no motivation to kill. He kills only those deserving (those persons threatening innocents or him) and does so only when it is the only alternative left to protect or defend. Without earningJack never initiates violence without warning his adversaries of the consequences of their actions.

  10. Kibbi Lightfeldt March 5, 2013 at 3:10 am #

    I believe that Reacher only kills when he has too. If he has to so that he can save himself or others. I think he has wonderful morals that other people do not always recognize . I don’t ever think I could think of him as a “physco” he never kills innocent people.

  11. Lynette M Burrows March 5, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    Jack has a very biblical type of code: ‘an eye for an eye.’ He kills only malignant users. People who don’t care who they hurt or how they hurt so long as their personal goal, their personal comfort is achieved. He often warns the users – what you’re doing is wrong. And if the don’t cease and desist, well . . . the hammer will come down.

  12. Steve Bonaparte March 5, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    Reacher kills because he has reconciled himself to the consequences of killing another person. He has the skills and training from his Army days and he can take another life whenever he feels that it is necessary based upon his internal code of conduct. I happen to agree with his choices – the people he kills deserve to be dead – but that is mostly due to the great story provided by Lee!

  13. Ruth Crawford March 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Jack Reacher Kills because he was born to kill. He does not kill indescriminately, but with forethought, even if it is half a second of forethought. He keeps his promises, and people can depend on him for this, even though this number has dwindled to a surprizing few. I wish I could depend on Jack Reacher, or even fix him a pot of coffee. He would be welcomed into my home any time.

  14. Sandy Smith March 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Jack is clinical in his quick evaluations of the situation and solutions to problems either forced on him or stumbled on by chance. He does not kill for pleasure of any kind but for survival and/or justice for himself or others. He has a built in moral code that works for him and levels the playing field against those that do not play by any rules. Jack kills because his skills allow him to, because evil exists and sometimes he’s in the right place at the right or wrong time depending on who you are.

  15. Melinda VanLone March 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    I think Jack kills because he’s seen “justice” and it doesn’t work for him. The system doesn’t always work. He does. He only kills when the person he’s aiming at crosses a line and he’s forced to act. It’s always someone who’s been thinking they are above the law, that they are better than everyone else, that they have a right to do whatever they please. They are bullies. And Reacher is the ultimate anti-bully. He’s the bully for the bully-ers. Kim and Otto would never have to worry about Reacher coming to kill them because they aren’t bullies. Just because they hunt him doesn’t mean he’d hunt them back. He’d merely keep out of the way. Not that they know that. Yet 😉

  16. Karen Couch March 8, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Jack uses all his abilities for justice, in its most basic sense. If his opponent has the ability and desire to use the “ultimate solution” then Jack will do so, if it serves justice. At times, the decision to kill would be neither just nor warranted. I love Jack Reacher because he delivers a type of justice that those of us who choose to live within the law are not allowed to dispense, even though at times it is “right” and is what we wish we could do.

  17. Jay Spill March 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Jack kills to keep from being killed, to stop the threat of someone else being killed, and to right the wrongs that have been commited. He lives by a set of rules that most people don’t have the inner fortitude to live by. He will always come to the aid of someone in need. He makes justice his business.

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